A concerto described as ‘totally overwhelming the first time you encounter it’.
Performed by Ioana Cristina Goicea and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Alan Buribayev, at the orchestra's Premier Series concert, Auckland Town Hall, 25 October 2018.
This was the piece Shostakovich was working on early in 1948 when he was being subjected to vicious public humiliation and condemnation as a ‘formalist', ‘counter-revolutionary’ and ‘bourgeois sympathiser’.
During this time, Shostakovich composed three categories of work: film music to pay the rent, official works aimed at getting official ‘rehabilitation’, and serious works "for the desk drawer", including this concerto.
It sat hidden in his drawer until its premiere in 1955 on October 29th – wisely perhaps, after Stalin’s death.
The work was composed as Opus 77, clearly inspired by the legendary violin playing of his great friend David Oistrakh. It was dedicated to Oistrakh, who performed it at the premiere with the Leningrad Philharmonic.
This violin concerto is known as a bit of an “iron man” concerto. It calls on everything in the violinists’ technical arsenal, as well as huge physical and emotional stamina.
The concerto has been described as ‘totally overwhelming the first time you encounter it’. Even David Oistrakh begged the composer to give the opening of the finale to the orchestra so that he could ‘at least wipe the sweat off my brow’, after the rather daunting solo cadenza at the end of the 3rd movement.
Recorded by RNZ Concert in Auckland Town Hall, 25 October 2018
Producer: Tim Dodd; Engineer: Adrian Hollay